I struggle with religion. I do not struggle with faith. I have faith. I struggle with the bureaucracy and hypocrisy of religion. I always feel this way after teaching Candide. Voltaire did such an amazing job pointing out the follies of religion, that if I look at the world 350 years later, not much has changed. We still have war over religious differences. We still have religious leaders corrupted by power who sieze ends for their own means. We still have religious groups haughtily disdaining other religious groups for not being close enough to God.
I attend mass on a semi-regular basis, and I like listening to the scripture and hearing the homily. What I really like is that it is an hour in which I really try to focus on thanking God for all that I have. It is peaceful, and sometimes, the sun shines so bright onto the stain glass windows that I feel like the beam of light that is touching my face is an extension of the hand of God. I try to keep my prayers away from asking because it ends up being like a laundry list of materialism, and God is not Santa Claus.
I have to believe that there are people just like me all over the world doing the same thing– loving God. Calling oneself Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu– essentially I think we are all the same. We may all be praying to God differently, but it is the love for God and the love of God that I think transcends religious boundaries. The God I believe in is a benevolent God. He loves all of His children.
Going back to Candide, Candide and Cacambo enter the lost city of El Dorado and they learn what a true utopia is. Candide realizes that they do not have religion per se, they just all believe in God and worship him. War does not breakout over religious differences, and not one person sees his belief in God as superior to all others, thus, no one needs a title such as priest or rabbi.
I hope that someday we can evolve and accept the differences of religions. We are all praying to the same God, devoted to feeling His love and giving ours to Him.
And so I pray.
Dear God, Thank you for today. Thank you for all who have entered and touched my life. Thank you for caring for us all. Thank you for loving me. I love you. Amen